The EPP head of the group at the European Parliament, Manfred Weber, Manuel Barroso and Herman Van Rompuy, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and, sure, Jean-Claude Juncker, the Spitzenkandidaten as European Commission next President.
They were all present at the EPP meeting held in Courtrai before the European Council, held in Ypres for its first day in order to commemorate the victims of the Great War. Durinf the meeting, the main issue was obviously represented by the debate on the name of the European Commission next President and his program.
The Chancellor, last to arrive, just minutes before Juncker, explained: “We are discussing the agenda for the next five years tonight. Van Rompuy will tell us about his consultation at the Parliament too, and if tomorrow the necessary contents will be clear – growth, fiscal adjustment, employment – we will take our decision on the forthcoming President.”
Someone asked her whether they will vote on Juncker, as requested by the UK: “We think there will be a vote. Treaties establish that just a qualified majority is necessary, and I think it won’t be such a drama if this time the vote is not unanimous. Still, we can find great compromises on contents with the United Kingdom, satisfying its requests. We’ve always been talking about the European spirit, I hope this spirit will help us find reasonable solutions.”
Dealing with names, the newly elected Finnish Prime Minister, Alexander Stubb, showed his preference for the Danish PM, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, S&D, as new President of the European Council. “She’s a great name for any office,” he said to the press. Yet, the name of Van Rompuy’s successor will be decided during on July 17, during an extraordinary meeting, as explained by Enda Kenny, Irish PM.
But Elmar Bork, EPP MEP very close to Merkel, said clearly that socialist cannot get three of the four top positions (presidency of the Parliament, of the Council, and High Representative). One of these three offices should be given the EPP for sure then.
The EPP meeting was attended by the Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, who reiterated his support to Juncker: “Voting him would be coherent and consequent. We voted him as EPP during the congress, we won the European election as majority party and I think PES shares our ideas.”